The Algonquin Legends of New England, by Charles G. Leland, , at sacred-texts.com
THE study of magic as it is believed in or understood by the Indians of America is extremely interesting, for it involves that of all supernaturalism or of all religion whatever. But if we, declining all question as to the origin of monotheism, limit ourselves definitely to what is known of Shamanism alone, we shall still have before us an immense field for investigation. Shamanism is the belief that all the events and accidents of life are caused or influenced by spirits, and as fear of suffering is in all men, but particularly the savage, the strongest moral emotion, the natural consequence is a greater fear of evil invisible beings. The result of it is a faith that everything which is obscure or invisible is supposed to be the work of mysterious agents, generally evil. Thus all disease whatever, all suffering, pain, loss, or disaster, or bad weather, is at once attributed either to a spirit or to some enemy who practices witchcraft. The Shaman is the priest or doctor, who professes to be able, by his counter-charms, to counteract or neutralize this devil's work.
It will be long ere the scholar definitely determines whether Shamanism as it now exists originated spontaneously
in different countries where the same causes were to be found, or whether it is historical; that is, derived from a single source. I believe that while darkness, hunger, fear, and similar causes could not fail to create a rude religion anywhere, as Moncure Conway has shown, yet that the derivation from one beginning, or at least later modifications from it, has been very great indeed.
Investigation indicates that it was in Assyria, at a very remote age, that Shamanism had, if not its origin, at least its fullest development. The reader who will consult Lenormant's work on Chaldean magic will learn from it that the fear of devils and the art of neutralizing their power were never carried to such an extent elsewhere as in the Land of Bel. Now as Shamanism has at the present day its stronghold among the Turanian races of Central Asia, it may greatly strengthen the theory, somewhat doubted of late, of the early Accadian predecessors of the Chaldeans and their Turanian origin, if we can only prove that their magical religion was the same as that of the Tartars. So far as my reading has aided me, I am inclined to believe that they are identical. "Magic" went so far among, the former that, while they discovered natural remedies for natural ills, they never doubted that one was as much the result of sorcery as the other. This theory spread everywhere.
Shamanism, or a vague fear of invisible evils and the sorcerer, may indeed have sprung up independently in Tartary, Central Africa, Finland, and North America.
[paragraph continues] But it is almost incredible that the use of a drum inscribed with magical figures, the spirit flight of the angakok or Shaman, and twenty other characteristics of the art should have become, without transmission, common to all these countries. Shamanism has probably been at the root of all religions; there was a great deal of it in all those of the Semitic races, and, admitting this, it is not difficult to see how from Chaldea and Babylon it may have found its way into Africa, where black savages, who would have rejected a higher religion, would grasp greedily at what they sympathized with. The only real difference between the Voodoo and Pow-wow practices is that the former is, so to speak, the blacker and more revolting. This is because a low state of culture has induced the believers in it to retain more of the coarse witchcraft on which Shamanism was based, or out of which it grew.
For wherever Shamanism exists, there is to be found, in company with it, an older sorcery, or witchcraft, which it professes to despise, and against which it does battle. As the Catholic priest, by Bible incantations or scriptural magic, exorcises devils and charms cattle or sore throats, disowning the darker magic of older days, so the Shaman acts against the real wizard. Rink tells us that among the heathen Eskimo the Shaman is sacred, and witchcraft a deadly crime, but that the latter is the secret survival of a more ancient religion. Voodoo, whether practiced, as it is to-day, in Philadelphia, New York, Havana, or Senegambia, deals with alleged devils, poisons, chicken
bones, the ivory root, unnatural orgies,--all, in short, that can startle and astonish ignorant natures; it is the combination of the oldest faith with its successor. Far higher forms are those of the magic of the black Takowri whom one meets divining about the streets of Cairo, or of the Arab proper, which brings us fairly to the Cabala and the Jew, Cornelius Agrippa and Eliphas Levi.
It is not difficult to understand how Shamanism, with its drums and darkened rooms, its conjuring of evil-doers and extraction of diseases in tangible forms, should have spread from Central Asia to the Laplanders and Eskimo, and thence to the red Indians. Very little attention has been paid to the intercourse actually existing at the present day between these races. I have met with a Passamaquoddy Indian who spoke French well, who had been educated at a mission school, and who had been among the Eskimo. As regards legends and folk-lore, no one can read the Eskimo tales and those of this volume and not feel that the Algonquin is to the man of the icy north what the gypsy is to the Hindoo. As regards the early religion of both races, it is simply identical, and it is far too peculiar in its many similar details to have simply sprung up, as many might assume, from the common likeness in customs of all savages. For there is in both a great deal of "literary" culture, especially in the Algonquin, and it would be little less than miraculous that this too should have assimilated by chance. It does not help the "opposition" to
point out that Algonquin legends declare that their ancestors came from the west. Even so, they came from the Pacific coast, where Eskimo Shamanism exists in its most decided forms. But in any case it cannot be denied that in the red Indian mythology of New England, and of Canada and New Brunswick, we have a collection of vigorous, icy, powerful legends, like those of a strong northern race, while those of the middle continent, or Chippewa, are far feebler and gentler. Hiawatha-Manobozho is to Glooskap as a flute to a war trumpet.
It is absurd to laugh at or pity the Indian for believing in his magic. Living as he does in the woods, becoming familiar with animals, and learning how much more intelligent and allied to man they are than civilized man supposes, he believes they have souls, and were perhaps originally human. Balaam's ass spoke once for every Christian; every animal spoke once for the Indian. If a child can be put to sleep by singing to it, why cannot insensibility to pain or a cure be caused by the same process? He is told that the wafer becomes the body of Christ; this may confirm his belief that the Indian god Manobozho turned bits of his own flesh or his wife's into raccoons, for food. If it is difficult for any educated or cultivated man to conceive how, if any condition or phase of supernaturalism be admitted, any other can be denied, how can the Indian be logically blamed for believing anything? But the greatest cause of all for a faith in magic is one which the white man talks about
without feeling, and which the Indian feels without talking about it. I mean the poetry of nature, with all its quaint and beautiful superstitions. To every Algonquin a rotten log by the road, covered with moss, suggests the wild legend of the log-demon; the Indian corn and sweet flag in the swamp are the descendants of beautiful spirits who still live in them; Meeko, the squirrel, has the power of becoming a giant monster; flowers, beasts, trees, have all loved and talked and suing, and can even now do so, should the magician only come to speak the spell. And there are such magicians. Why should he doubt it? If the squirrel once yielded to such a power in man, it follows that some man may still have the power, or that he himself may acquire it. And how much of this feeling of the real poetry of nature does the white man or woman possess, who pities the poor ignorant Indian? A few second-hand scraps of Byron and Tupper, Tennyson and Longfellow, the jingle of a few rhymes and a few similes, and a little second-hand supernaturalism, more "accepted" than felt, and that derived from far foreign sources, does not give the white man what the Indian feels. Joe, or Noel, or Sabattis may seem to the American Philistine to be a ragged, miserable, ignorant Indian; but to the scholar he is by far the Philistine's superior in that which life is best worth living for.
The magic of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot, like the magician himself, is called metéowlin, m'déoolin, or m'téoulin. It is the same effectively as méda,
which is from the same root. It is a power, but opinions differ as to how it is acquired. It is certain, as I was told by all old Passamaquoddy Indian, of Sebayk, near Campobello, that some children are born m'téoulin. They manifest it, even while babes, by being capricious, eccentric, and malicious. Others acquire the art as they grow older. From all that I have heard I infer that m'téoulin takes two forms,--one of witchcraft, the other of magic. The former is innate, or may be acquired; the latter, for aught I know, may be sometimes inborn, but is generally acquired by fasting, abstinence of other kinds, and ceremonies. The two are distinctly different. Rink found in Greenland and Labrador that the Eskimo, as I have said, made this difference.
I will now give, word for word, the remarks of certain Indians on this subject, beginning with those of an intelligent and prosperous old man, who is certainly enlightened and Christianized very much beyond the average of his race. I had asked him if there were any m'téoulin, or magicians, living. He replied:—
"There are. Many at St. John and Sebayk are still m'téoulin. I saw this myself thirty-five years ago at St. John's. There was a deaf Indian there. The white men were abusing him. They spat on him. By and by a m'téoulin from St. John's came, a man of thirty-five or forty. I saw this. The m'téoulin asked them not to abuse the deaf and dumb Indian. They turned on the m'téoulin. Then he screamed so
horribly, so awfully, and looked so like a devil that the men were frightened. They fell on their knees, and could not move. They let the man go."
This is precisely what is narrated by many writers of the Shaman screaming and distorting of the features. Very few people know of what the human voice is capable. It can not only be trained to divine song, but to such demoniacal howling as to deafen and appall even the guardians of a lunatic asylum. In Lapland, Central Asia, or on Nootka Sound the initiated are trained in remote solitudes to these utterances, to which no one can listen without terror. My informant continued:—
"Two or three weeks after I was in another place. We spoke of the m'téoulin. The white folks ridiculed them. I said there was one in Fredericton, and I said I would bet ten dollars that he would get the better of them. And they bet that no Indian could do more than they could. So the m'téoulin came. And first of all he screamed so that no one could move. It was dreadful. Then he took seven steps through the ground up to his ankles, just as if it had been light snow. When I asked for the ten dollars, the white men paid. I gave it to the m'téoulin."
Among the Greenland Eskimo the sorcerer, writes Rink, "after meeting with tomassuk, or guardian spirits, sometimes manifests it by his feet sinking into the rocky ground just as if in snow." He uses the very words of the Indian who described the same thing to me. And very recently in Philadelphia, in fact while
[paragraph continues] I was writing the preceding remarks, a spiritualist named Gordon performed the very same trick. Having been detected, a full account of the manner of action appeared in the Press of that city. It was done by a peculiar method of stooping, and of concealing the stoop behind a skirt. It was a very odd coincidence that the explanation should thus present itself while I was seeking it.
This Shaman Eskimo trick was known to the Norsemen. In the Saga of Thorstein it is said that Ogantun, a noted sorcerer, when stabbed at, "thrust himself down into the ground, so that only the soles of his feet could be seen;" and of Kol it was said that "he could pass through the earth as well as walk upon it."
"Women are sometimes m'téoulin. There is one at Psesuk (Bar Harbor) now, this summer. You have met her. She is -----'s wife. 1 If you offend her she can hurt you in strange ways.
"She is a good doctor. Once she cured a man. When he got well he could not pay her for the medicine. His name is Louis -----. She asked for her money; she asked many times; she could not get it. He was going to the woods, far away, to trap; he said he would pay her when he returned, but she wanted it then. She said, 'I will never forget this; I will be revenged.' He went far up the St. John River with his traps; he set them in the stream for beaver. All
that he caught that winter was sticks, and sometimes an eel. Then at the end of the day he would say to his man, 'It is of no use.' And then they could hear the witch laughing behind the bushes, and tittering when he came home. So it went on long. Then he was sorry, and said, 'I wish I had paid that woman what I owed her.' And at once they heard a voice from the bushes, or rocks, say, 'Louis, that will do. It is enough.' And the next day they caught two beaver, and every day two, and so on, till the season was over.
"This happened in 1872, in Miramichi Waters."
There does not appear to be any single approved method of acquiring m'téoulin. Some, as I have said, are born to it, but they appear to be wizards or witches. Others are formally trained from boyhood by the experienced magicians. Others acquire certain gifts by certain ceremonies or penances. Of this kind was the power obtained in the manner narrated in the following story, which I heard from an old Passamaquoddy:—
"There was once a young man who wished to become a very wise and brave warrior, like his father. And his father said to him, 'I get all my luck of every kind from my dreams. You can have such dreams; any man can, if he will do a certain thing; but that thing is not easy for a young man like you. You must sleep seven nights with a virgin, and never touch her.'
"The young man thought this over for a few days,
and then asked his father how it could be arranged or managed.
"'I will tell you,' replied the old man. 'Find a girl; the more beautiful she is and the more you want her, the stronger the magic will be. Go to the parents for their daughter as a wife. Cheat them so. Before you marry get seven bear-skins, and let no man except one know anything about it. Make him clean them. One skin should be cleaned every twenty-four hours. Seven days must pass so.'
"The young man was accepted by the parents; he sent the seven bear-skins to the young woman; they were married; they went to their wigwam. He lay on the bear-skins; he directed his wife to make another bed and sleep on it. They lay apart. The bride thought this was strange; she told her mother of it. The mother said, 'Never mind. By and by it will be all right.' The wife thought it was all wrong. When seven nights had passed the bridegroom disappeared. He was not seen in his village for twenty-five or thirty years. Then he returned to his father. He could divine all things by dreams. He had but to take the magic bear-skin and sleep on it, and dream. He could tell where to find good hunting or fishing. He foredreamed war with the Mohawks. Can any man do this? They say so, and I have known many who tried it in vain. They could not pass the trial successfully."
"There are stones in the forest with names on them. They give great power to dream. I have seen
in my dreams the m'téoulin of ancient times,--the magicians, my father told me, of long ago. I have seen them diving under the waters from one island to another. I have seen them dive ten miles.
"When I was young, J. N., who was a great m'téoulin, offered to teach me the art. I could have become one, but I would not. I did not think it was right.
"Once old J. N. and my grandfather hunted in the woods. It was near Katahdin, the Great Mountain. 1 And they wanted everything. They had got out of everything. One night old N. said, 'I can bear this no longer. Would you like a nice pipe of tobacco? We have had nothing but meat for four weeks.' So he went away for a short time; perhaps it was an hour. He returned with a box. There was in it three pounds of tobacco; there was cheese, rice, and sugar; there was fifty pounds of provision in all."
This famous m'téoulin was long a popular governor of the Passamaquoddies. I have a curious old brass candlestick, said to be one hundred and fifty years old, which he owned all his life. The following remarkable reminiscences; of this very clever old sagamore were given to me by Marie Sakis, a Penobscot:
"The old governor was a great m'téoulin. He had got it among the Chippewas. He said that it
would come to pass that he would die before the next snow-storm. No, he did not care himself, but my husband's mother did, when she heard this, and she cried. Then he said, 'Well, I will try to live, or else die in a month; but it will be a hard fight. 1 So he made him a bow, and strung it with his wife's hair; I and having done this, he shot an arrow through the smoke-hole of his wigwam. 2
"All this was at Nessaik, near Eastport. Then he said to his wife, 'Take one of your leggins and put it on my head.' She did so. Then he took medicine. A rainbow appeared in the sky, and a great horse-fly came out of his mouth, and then a large grasshopper. He cried to his wife, 'Do not kill it!' And then came a stone spear-head. 3
"'Now,' said the governor, 'this is all right so far, but the great struggle is yet to come. It is a weewillmekq' who has done this.' (You know what that is: the Passamaquoddies call it weewilmekq'. It is a worm an inch long, which can make itself into a horrid monster as large as a deer; yes, and much larger. It is m'téoulin; yes, it is a great magician.) I am going to fight it. You must come with a small
stick to bit it once, and only a mere tap.' 1 But she would not go. So he went and fought with the Weewillmekq'. He killed it. It was a frightful battle. When he returned he smelt like fresh fish. His wife bade him go and wash himself; but let him bathe as much as he could, the smell remained for days. The pond where he fought has been muddy and foul ever since.
"The governor could with a gimlet bore a hole in any tree in the woods, and draw from it as he pleased any kind of wine or other liquor. Once he was far in the forest with some white gentlemen; he wished to entertain them. He did this, to their astonishment. He produced tobacco in a miraculous manner when it was wanted. Then, returning to Eastport, he went to Mr. Pearce, who kept a store, and showed him that a certain amount of wine had disappeared from his barrels, and paid him for it. He never drank wine or spirits himself.
"He once went hunting. He took his wife with him; she was enceinte. It was in midwinter. She had a great yearning for green corn. He put a dish on the ground, and there fell from above ears of fresh-boiled green corn into it. 'There,' said he, 'as I promised, you have it.'
"She had a silver cross and beads. One day she lost it, and grieved very much. He said, 'Put that wooden dish upside down, near the fire.' It was done, and when she turned it up the cross was under the
dish. And he said the Ketawks, or Spirits, had brought it."
The following legend, told me by Tomah Josephs, sets forth another manner by which m'téoulin may be acquired.
"There were two Indian families camped away at some distance from the main village. In one lived a young man, and every night he would go to the other wigwams to see some girls. His mother warned him that he would come to harm, for there was danger abroad, but he never minded her.
"Now, one night at the end of winter, when the ground was bare of snow, as he was walking along he heard something come after. It had a very heavy, steady tramp. He stopped, and saw a long figure, white, but without arms or legs. It looked like a corpse rolled up. He was horribly frightened, but when it attacked him he grew angry. The object, though it had no arms, fought madly. It twined round him; it struck itself against him, and thrashed itself, bending like a fish all about. And he, too, fought as if he was crazy. He was one of those whose blood and courage go up, but never down; he could die, but never give in till dead. Before daylight the Ghost suggested a rest, or peace; the Indian would not bear of it, but fought on. The Ghost began to implore mercy, but the youth just then saw in the north Kival lo kesso, the break of day. Then he knew that if he could but endure the battle a little longer he should indeed get a great victory.
"Then the Ghost implored him, saying, 'Let me go, and whatever you may want you shall get, and good luck all your life.' Yet for all this he would not yield, for he knew that by conquering he would win all the Spirit had to give. And as the first sun-ray shone on him he became insensible, and when he awoke it was as from a sleep. But by his side lay a large, old, decayed log, covered with moss. He remembered that during the fight he had seemed once to plunge his fist, by a violent blow, completely into the enemy up to his elbow, and there was a hole in it corresponding to this wound. He had torn away the other's scalp-lock, stripping the skin down to the waist; he found a long, hairy-looking piece of moss ripped from the end of the log to the middle. And all about lay pieces of moss and locks of his own hair, testifying to the fury of the fight.
"He was terribly bruised and torn, but that he did not heed, for now he was another man, and a terrible one. His mother said, 'I warned you of danger:' but he had conquered the danger. He had all the strength of five strong men, and all the might and magic of the Spirit; yes, the Spirit itself was now in him. After this he could do anything, and find game where no one else could. To conquer a ghost gives power."
To conquer the dead, or to fight terrible spirits, to thereby absorb their power, and finally to keep them in a struggle until the day shines on them, is both Norse and Celtic, if not, indeed, world-wide. But
the grim spirit of this narrative is Norse; it is that of the hero wresting from a corpse's hold the sword of victory.
Fleet give I thee,
Five men's bane,
If thou it believe."
But the great element or chief cause of magic power among the Indians is that of Will. It manifests itself in many forms, mere courage being one. Thus the Weewillmekq' confers supernatural ability or other favors only on those who are not afraid of it. The demon Log, as we have just seen, gives strength and prosperity to a man for simply fighting like a bull-dog. Beyond courage, pluck or bottom is with these Indians as nearly allied to magic as poetry was among the Greeks, or with an Eschenmayer. When the true magician "gets mad," and continues to get madder till the end, he is invincible. Allied to this is perseverance. The Rabbit is rewarded with skill as an enchanter merely for continuing to try. His very failures have this in them, that he keeps on resolutely, though in a wrong road. No one can fail to be struck, in these legends of the Northeast Algonquins, how often a boy, or adult, when asked if he can do a difficult thing, replies, "I can try." All of this apotheosis of pluck, perseverance, and patience is far more developed among these legends than in those of the Chippewas or other western and southern tribes, at least so far as I am familiar with
them. It exists wherever there are red Indians, but the Eastern Algonquin seems to have thought it out more and made more of it than others have done. Therefore his cycle of myths, or his Edda, occupies a higher place. It is less chaotic; it is more consistent; it is a chorus in which every voice is trained to respond to or correspond with the leader. In this respect it has a remarkable resemblance to the Scandinavian myths and poems. In its theory that magic power may be obtained by "penitence,"--I do not mean here "repentance,"--that is by self-inflicted pain, it agrees with the Hindoo, and in fact more or less with all religions. But it is only, I believe, in the red Indian and Hindoo creeds that it is distinctly admitted that man can attain the power to do both good and evil, or whatever he pleases, if he will only pay for it by suffering. The doctrine of power through penance is so simple and obvious in its origin that it would long precede monotheism. A man exercises himself with great exertion in lifting stones, as in an Eskimo tale, till he is strong; he practices shooting arrows and running after them, as in the story of the Chief's Son, till he can outrun them. Then the, secret of such marvelous deeds is supposed to exist in the bow, and it becomes a fetich.
A very important part of m'téoulin is the materials employed. In Old World magic these are exclusively objects which startle or disgust, parts of the human body, dead reptiles, or things singular and rare. Among the Indians, very commonplace articles are
employed indifferently with those of the former kind. The magic consists not in them, but in the magician and his methods. He has had, let us say, his dreams, or received, while alone in the forest, his inspirations, which have told him what to do. He takes the objects suggested, and with them performs his wonder works. Sometimes he tells others to do the same with the same things, but in this case he is still the motive force; it is his enchantment. In illustration of this I give the following legend:—
Far in the woods was an Indian town; near it lived two old people, who had two beautiful daughters, and no son. The girls were very shy. They seldom let themselves be seen. They would not listen to the young men.
The chief of the tribe had a fine son, a great hunter, and skilled in mysteries. 1 The young man wanted one of the girls. His father went to their parents and obtained their consent, but the girls refused to be married.
There lived in the village a young man who was neither strong, handsome, nor clever at any kind of work. Hearing that the chief's son had failed to get one of the shy or proud girls, he said--but all in jest, for he had but a poor opinion of himself--that he was the right kind of a man to get them. "If they had, for example, only seen me, now," he exclaimed,
[paragraph continues] "they would have wished to be married at once!" Then they all laughed, and proposed that they should go that night and try to see the girls, and how they would receive the plain looking youth.
So they went quietly, about supper-time, and entered so suddenly that the girls had not time to hide behind the curtain, and so were obliged to receive the visitors. After supper they engaged in playing Mingwadokadjik. In this game a ring is hidden in the ashes or sand, and each player, with a pointed stick, makes a plunge until the ring is hit, and brought out. (This is Indian poker.--T. B.)
So the evening passed, and nothing was said of marriage; and at last the guests went away, and for some time the young man made a jest of his having gone courting. One day he was far and alone in the woods, when he met an old woman of very strange appearance. She was wrinkled and bent with extreme age. and her head was braided up with a very great, number of sakalobeek, or hair-strings, which hung down to her heels. After greeting him civilly, she asked him if he was really anxious to marry one of the beauties whom he had visited. "O Nugumee" (grandmother), he replied, "I do not care about it." "Only if you did," she replied, "I can give you the one you want, if you will only say so."
Now the young man saw that the old woman was in earnest, and he replied that in fact he would be very glad to get one of the girls, but that no girl worth having would look at him. Then the old dame, taking
one of her hair-strings, said, "Roll this up, and carry it in your pouch for a while; 1 and then go, and, catching an opportunity, toss the cord upon her back. But take care that she does not know that you have done this, and let it be indeed a secret to all."
So he took the sakalobe, and, visiting the girls once again, threw it on one of them, more hopeful of success this time. And the cast succeeded, though she said nothing then. But the next day, alone in the woods, he met her, for she had followed him. And she said, "Tamealeen?" "Where are you going?" "I am going hunting," he replied. "But, if you have not lost your way, what are you doing here?" "I am not lost in the woods," she replied, but said no more. Then he, seeing how it was, said, "It would be better, though, if I returned with you to your parents, and told them that I found you lost, and showed you the way home." And having done this, the girl's father, noting that she liked the young man, asked him if he wished to marry her; and as both were willing, and something more, the wedding feast was soon ready, the friends invited, and the couple settled down.
Some days after, the husband, seeing his wife wearing the magic hair-string, asked her, "Where did you
get that pretty sakalobe?" "I found it," she replied, "in my 'ntuboonk" (usual sitting place in the wigwam). This caused the young man to reflect how kindly he had been treated by the old fairy or witch, and how easily he, without any merit, had won his wife, and then to think of the deserving young chief's son who had failed. So, taking him into the woods, they found the old woman, who, kind as ever, did for the chief's son what she had already done for his friend, and gave him also a magic hair-string. And using it in the same way he in like manner won the other sister; and it was indeed well, for she was the one whom he wanted most. And the two men whose wives were sisters (wechoosjik), were on the best of terms and much together.
Now the young chief reflected that his brother-in-law had been very kind to him, for little cause, and thought how he could repay him. So he asked him one day if he would like to be a swift runner. "Truly I would," replied the other. "Then go and gather some feathers, and let them blow when the wind is high, and chase them. You will soon be able to outstrip the wind, and when the art comes it will never depart from you." Then he did this, and became so swift that no man or beast could escape him.
Yet again the chief's son said, "Would you like to become strong and very active?" And as he of course said "Yes," the friend replied, "Dress yourself in the worst and raggedest garments, and attack the first man you find. He will catch you by the clothes
but do you slip out of them and run." This he did; the first man whom he met was a lunatic, who gladly grappled for a fight. So he slipped out of the clothes and ran; but the madman thought the apparel made the man, and beat it a long time, and left it for dead. But after he had done this with many men he indeed became strong and active.
Then the chief's son said, "I will teach you quickness of sight, so that you may perceive animals while hunting, though other men may not. Take a handful of moose's hairs; hold them firmly in a roll between your thumb and finger; hold them up in a high wind and let them go. So you will be able to perceive, in time, all the moose. And to see deer, or any other animal, you must take their hair and treat it in the same way." So he did; and by means of this magic became so keen of sight that he beheld every beast.
Yet again the chief's son said, "Would you see birds where no other men can?" And he, assenting, was told to strip the feathery part from a bird's quills (chekakadega), and, blowing it into the air, look carefully in the direction in which it flew. And having practiced this also, he became very perfect in the art. 1
Now, having learned all these things, he asked the chief's son how he could learn to see the fishes of the sea. And being told that he must collect all kinds of fishes' bones, and burn them and pound them to dust, he did so; and, having blown them up into the wind, he could see all manner of fish and call them to him.
This young man went afar in his thoughts; for reflecting that the whales were giant-like in power, he wondered what might be done by magic with them. And his friend said that it was true that the whales could give to man unearthly power and exceeding long, life. "For," said he, "they never die till they are killed, and by their aid one may live on till life borders on immortality." So burning a piece of whalebone (pootup-awigun), he pounded it to powder, and, standing on a rock that jutted out into the sea, the sorcerer blew the dust seawards. And erelong he saw dark spots far away, and as they grew to be more numerous they became larger, and yet more numerous anon, and for every grain of dust which he blew there came a whale; and yet he blew again seven times. Then the whole school of immense creatures came towards him; and he that was largest, or the sagamore of the whales, swimming close to the man on the rock, said, "Why hast thou called me?" And he replied, "Make me strong."
And the Whale answered, "It is well. Put thy hand in my mouth!" And, doing this, he found and took out a golden key. 1" Keep that," said the Whale. "While you have it you will be safe against man, beast, or illness. The foe shall not harm you; the spirits which haunt the wilderness shall pass you by; hunger and pain shall not know you; death shall not be in your road."
So the young man thanked the great magician, and went home; and as it had been promised it came to pass. All was ever well with him; trouble and trial were with him no more. Those who were in his village never knew hunger; the wild game abounded, and came to them when called; no enemy attacked them; the sun and moon smiled on them; they sang the songs of the olden time, and played the flute in peace.
In time the old chief drew near the end of his life, and his son asked the friend if his father's days could not be prolonged. But the magician thought it best to let him pass in peace; and he did so. Then the young chief offered his place and power to his brother-in-law (wechoosul); but he refused it, and passed his life in aiding his friend in every way by his power and wisdom. Kespeahdvoksit (here the story ends).
This legend is little more than an enumeration of the recipes popularly employed to obtain certain powers.
[paragraph continues] It may be observed that it is limited to all that a real Indian requires. It is very different from what a white man or an Asiatic savage would have wanted; and there is just enough truth and common sense in the methods recommended to make the whole plausible. The reader will observe that the magic hair-string and locks of hair play the same important part in m'téoulin that they did in Old World magic. This is hardly one of the coincidences which can be attributed to spontaneous development from similar causes. It may be such, but there may be also an Eskimo side-gate through which it entered from the other side.
Another magic means was the influencing high and mysterious powers. Of this the following is an admirable illustration:—
342:1 I am acquainted with all the parties, but for obvious reasons suppress their names.
345:1 Katahdin, like the Intervale near North Conway, is haunted and enchanted ground, abounding in fairies and other marvelous beings. But there is not a mile square of New England which has not its legends.
346:1 In a Chippewa legend a boy confers magic power on a bow by stringing it with his sister's hair.
346:2 This is also mentioned in a legend where it is said that every arrow killed a supernatural enemy.
346:3 This is all in detail perfectly Shamanic. The smell of the fresh fish after such a fight is the same in an Eskimo legend, The horse-fly (gan) is Lapp.
347:1 In the legend of Partridge, a mere tap stuns the water-fairy.
352:1 In Passamaquoddy, N'paowlin: a man learned in mysteries, a scholar. This is my own Indian name. It is apparently the same with boo-öin; that is, pow-wow man.
354:1 One of the infallible ancient methods to make anything into a fetich, or amulet, is to carry it a long time about the person. Familiarity, as Heine observes (Reisebilder), gives a silent life, or apparent sympathy, to even old clothes. Thus domestic well-known objects become fairies, and thus they talk to children.
356:1 The secret of these spells is very apparent. But the teacher would make the pupil believe that the successful result would greatly depend on the color and kind of the fur or feathers employed. It is curious to observe how, in the over-refinement of "sport" among gentlemen, the idea that this or that is "good p. 357 form" and "the correct thing," which must be done, has had the effect of establishing much which is mere fetich. A fox in England and a bear in Canada must be killed in a certain way by men of caste.
358:1 This is a manifestly modern addition. There is every indication that the story itself is ancient, probably Eskimo.